Engaging with Important People Made Easy

My name is Blake Livingston Hodges, and I am a junior marketing major at Union University. I spend the majority of my college time traveling the southeastern part of America competing in the International Public Debate Association. In the moments that I’m not debating or doing school work, I enjoy screaming at the Washington Redskins to play better football.

Every college major is different and the skills needed vary across them. However, the ability to interact with people transcends all majors. Regardless of the field of study you embark upon in college, you will interact with people who hold a higher position than you. It is important to know how to interact with these administrators and executives to do your job well and advance your career
I was in my sophomore year of college when my school appointed a new president. He came to visit the university a few times in the spring semester before taking over in the summer, and he spent a lot of time with students while he was here. At the end of an event, I was able to talk to him for a brief moment. I was thrilled to get to speak with him. The next day I noticed that people were posting pictures they had taken with him from that weekend, and I was suddenly filled with regret that I didn’t snap a photo with him during our brief chat.
When I look back to what happened next, I laugh at how my unorthodox approach worked. I sent him a message on Facebook one night, and I invited him to come over and eat dinner in my dorm room with my roommates and me the next time he would be in town. This was a one in a million shot. How often do you hear of a university president who just goes to chill in a student’s dorm?
A few days after I sent the message, I received a reply that he would be very interested in coming! After much preparation, my roommates and I welcomed the new university president and his wife into our dorm for dinner. Over the course of two hours we ate dinner, got to know the new president, and listened to the story of how he had come to be appointed as our next president. This was the highlight of my sophomore year, and I was surprised at how easy it was to talk to someone of such importance.

Tips Here are some tips for talking to someone who is in a high position.

• Ask them open-ended questions that allow for discussion.
• Listen intently. Keep your cell phone in your pocket and give them all the attention your brain can muster.
• Ask follow up questions. Asking follow up questions shows them you are interested and engaged in what they are talking about.

While interacting with people of importance can be intimidating, just remember they are people too. The greatest thing you can do for a person is to listen to what they are saying. This shows you care about what they care about and by extension care about them. This type of interaction makes the person feel valued because you have not just listened to them but you have attentively listened and engaged with them. This creates a quick and meaningful start to a friendship that will help you work with them down the road.

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